As the semester comes to a close and we approach finals season, it’s more important than ever to remind ourselves that it’s important to take a step back and find something to occupy our time during much needed study breaks. Recently, I’ve been having conversations with friends about what it is outside of our classes that we do purely for enjoyment, completely separate from our studies and professional development. Finding an extracurricular passion is a great way to find a release or temporary escape from a hectic schedule of Honors classes, club obligations, and Zoom meetings. For me, this has manifested itself in the form of my semi-regular trips to the Little Bob throughout the week to swim.
Swimming used to be an integral part of my weekly schedule before coming to college and was not something I planned to incorporate regularly into my college experience. But after pandemic circumstances left me without access to a pool for a year and a half, I suddenly found myself nostalgic for 6 a.m. practices and three-hour meets. When I got back to campus this spring, I decided to ease myself back into swimming, uncertain as to whether I would enjoy being back in the pool or not. I cannot quite describe the sense of relief I felt during that first lap, two years after my last swim season had come to a close. I immediately felt myself relax into a familiar pattern, remembering just how much I had enjoyed swimming, even when it was too early to see the sun and I hadn’t gotten a chance to drink my morning coffee. Continue reading
Like most college students with schedules dominated by numerous courses and weekly meetings, I’m not immune to occasional bouts of burnout. In fact, after taking two winter session courses in January, academic fatigue arrived just in time for the beginning of my spring semester classes.
Dealing with academic burnout is difficult for a number of reasons, but there are some tricks from language learning that, in my experience, help train your brain to overcome the challenge and persevere.
Anyone who voluntarily studies foreign languages can tell you that it’s not all smooth sailing through new vocabulary and advancing grammar constructions. There’s an added motivation factor that comes with practicing your target language outside of class, in addition to your homework assignments, and over lengthy school breaks.
A lack of motivation to practice my languages was never a problem for me when the excitement of first learning was fresh or when I was in immersive environments where the language itself was inescapable. However, when the honeymoon phase is over and studying, reviewing, and memorization become daily requirements, that continuous linguistic curiosity starts to diminish.
I often experience this during school breaks when lacking the structure my classes provide each semester starts to take a toll on my ability to schedule a balance between three different languages each day. I’ll start with blocking off specific times for each, and then over the course of a few weeks, it is a rarity if I get to all of them in a day. Continue reading
If you’re like me, this lengthy campaign season and prolonged election cycle has seriously taken its toll. While political burnout might seem easier to succumb to than it has in the past, this year has also helped many of us realize political and civic engagement can be more rewarding than we previously imagined. With the 2020 election displaying record voter turnout, particularly among young voters, students may feel inspired to continue their political engagement.
Staying involved in civic processes is not a one-size-fits-all. There are a vast number of ways students can remain engaged outside of voting, from formal classroom education to extracurricular peer-led discussions. In recent years, including this one, the University of Delaware has been named a top school for the Student Voting Honor Roll, which not only demonstrates that our student body remains civically engaged, but also indicates that there are a number of on-campus offerings that foster a supportive environment for political awareness.
While the 2020 presidential election may be over, there are still plenty of other opportunities for students to get involved with politics outside of casting ballots. If you feel civic engagement has been a transformative experience for you and would like to spend time encouraging fellow students to join in the democratic process, then you should check out Make It Count. If you’re interested in finding ways to have safe and productive political discussions or to learn more about political issues, Let’s Talk is another RSO to try. Both of these RSOs are non-partisan, but more ideology-specific RSOs are available as well, including the College Democrats and College Republicans, among others. Continue reading
When the initial shock of a pandemic uprooting my time on campus wore off, my next instinct was to look for hidden opportunities to come out of quarantine. I fully expected that within two months I could be cooking gourmet meals, working out everyday, and achieving other lofty goals. And while I certainly attempted to incorporate self-improvement into my social distancing experience, my dinners of microwavable grain bowls and Annie’s box Mac and Cheese offer a glimpse into my eluding success.
Another significant challenge I’ve experienced over the past several months has been keeping in touch with people outside my immediate family. Maintaining the strength of my relationships over distance and time has always been difficult for me and was one of my primary concerns when I realized the extent of our isolation.
Over the summer, a solution to both my disappointing track record and my need for more regular human interaction presented itself to me through a text from a high school friend. A fellow French student, who also happens to enjoy testing the limits of their brain’s linguistic capabilities by studying multiple languages at once, had been using Duolingo regularly throughout the semester. He could plainly see that I had not. By abruptly pointing out that I was lagging behind for someone supposedly dedicated to language learning, he inspired me to begin a daily practice with some friendly competition. The exchange motivated me to resume language study outside of the classroom, not just through the app, but through other means as well. Continue reading